It was the blockbuster that redefined the superhero genre and Kirsten Dunst had a front seat for it all. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve seen it but fear not, Hulu has it for you, and right now it is slowing crawling its way up the charts, sitting firm at #9.
Spider-Man stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and has Kirsten Dunst on board as his love interest, Mary Jane Watson. It was the perfect match. This version of Spider-Man (there are now quite a few) is an origin story, one that most anyone who can breathe knows.
Peter Parker, the nerdy high schooler, is on a school trip to Columbia University where the group is on a tour of the school’s genetics lab, including Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson. While poking around where he shouldn’t, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered “super spider” causing Peter to take on the abilities of a spider.
Meanwhile, Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), the owner of Oscorp, is trying to land a large military contract. Unable to nail it down, he then experiments on himself with a very unstable performance-enhancing drug. This drug causes Norman to go insane, killing his assistant then stealing a flight suit with a glider.
Peter wakes up the next morning finding that his body is changing drastically — in some ways that Kirsten Dunst’s character would probably find pretty appealing. He is more muscular and when he gets to school, he accidentally finds out that he can shoot spider webs from his wrist (something changed from the original comic book where Peter invented the web-shooters).
Peter also discovers he has accelerated reflexes and when danger is near, he knows it. He realizes the spider bite has given him spider powers and he confirms this by climbing the side of a building.
Peter decides to use his newfound powers to make some money. He wants to impress Mary Jane by purchasing a new car, so he joins a wrestling competition to make the desired cash. After Peter wins his first match, the promoter stiffs him the money. But Peter retaliates when a thief comes in to take the money and Peter does nothing to stop him.
Not long after letting the thief go, Peter finds that his Uncle Ben has been killed by a carjacker. When Peter goes off in pursuit, he catches the man only to realize the man was the thief he let go. As time goes on, Peter accepts his role as Spider-Man while Norman slides further and further into his Green Goblin persona.
Peter lands a job as a photographer at the Daily Bugle, immediately earning the wrath of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), the newspaper’s editor in chief. Balancing a new job, his attempt to land MJ as a girlfriend, maintaining his friendship with Harry Osborn (James Franco), and taking down the pesky, yet deranged and dangerous Green Goblin is all in a day’s work for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Before Sam Raimi gave us 2002’s Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man sat in development hell. Not because there weren’t directors and actors who didn’t want to talk on those roles, but because of financial and, more to the point, licensing issues.
As those issues continued to rise, so did the number of directors attached to the project. James Cameron was one big name who was trying to bring the web-slinger to the big screen. Others considered were Roland Emmerich, Tim Burton, Ang Lee, Chris Columbus, Jan de Bont, M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Scott, and David Fincher.
Fincher did not want to tell an origin story with Kirsten Dunst, he wanted to focus more on the Gwen Stacy story. The studio did not agree with him on that, so they passed on bringing him on board. When Raimi was hired, it came as a bit of a shock. Raimi’s background, while an amazing director, leaned more towards horror as he was the driving force behind movies like The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Darkman, Army of Darkness, and The Quick and the Dead. While Darkman is considered a “superhero” film, Raimi had never been handed the keys to such a big film.
Thankfully, with a script written by David Koepp, Raimi handled the job perfectly. With his $139 million budget, Raimi brought in $825 million at the box office.
Sam Raimi did his due diligence searching for the perfect Spider-Man. Leonardo DiCaprio, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jude Law, Chris Klein, Wes Bentley, and Heath Ledger were all considered. Raimi also looked at Scott Speedman, Jay Rodan, and even James Franco before settling on Maguire.
For Mary Jane, Kirsten Dunst was far down the list of actresses. Raimi looked at a number of actresses to include Kate Bosworth, Elizabeth Banks (deemed too old for the part), Kate Hudson (turned the role down), Eliza Dushku, Mena Suvari, and Jaime King all were considered before Raimi chose Dunst. The pairing made upside-down kissing a fad.
For Kirsten Dunst, it was just one more film to add to her nice resume that started back in 1989. As a child actress, she made her mark as Claudia in Interview with a Vampire opposite Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. She turned that into Jumanji and from there, her career was taking off.
Before Mary Jane Watson entered her life, Dunst was seen in Wag the Dog, Small Soldiers, The Virgin Suicides, the underrated comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, Bring It On, and Get Over It.
Kirsten Dunst would go on to play Mary Jane Watson two more times in Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. Lately, Dunst was seen in the hit series, On Becoming a God in Central Florida. Next up for her is the feature The Power of the Dog and who knows, with all the rumored and confirmed actors getting set to return in Spider-Man: No Way Home, don’t be surprised if we don’t see her return as our favorite redhead. For now, if you wish to see that redhead, you can catch Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man, now playing on Hulu.